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Critics state "there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn't", and the problem with the idea of "alternative" treatments in this sense is that the "underlying logic is magical, childish or downright absurd".It has been strongly suggested that the very idea of any alternative treatment that works is paradoxical, as any treatment proven to work is by definition "medicine".Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical.Testing alternative medicine that has no scientific basis has been called a waste of scarce research resources.
One of the most critical is the placebo effect – a well-established observation in medicine.
There are several socio-cultural reasons for the interest in these treatments centered on the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large and a concomitant increase in antiscientific attitudes and new age mysticism.
There is also an increase in conspiracy theories toward conventional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, mistrust of traditional authority figures, such as the physician, and a dislike of the current delivery methods of scientific biomedicine, all of which have led patients to seek out alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
Alternative medical diagnoses and treatments are not taught as part of science-based curricula in medical schools, and are not used in any practice where treatment is based on scientific knowledge or proven experience.
Alternative therapies are often based on religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or lies.
Even low-risk medications such as antibiotics can have potential to cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in a very few individuals.